Indiana ‘Don’t Say Gay’ passes out of committee

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 7:52 PM EST
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INDIANAPOLIS (WNDU) - Indiana lawmakers on Monday considered their own version of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

House Bill 1608 has been identified as one of 22 pieces of legislation deemed to be detrimental to the LGBTQ community.

The development drew a large and loud crowd of protesters to the Indiana Statehouse. At least one protestor was removed from the gallery in the House Chambers for shouting.

Lawmakers started by amending the bill.

The original version would have prohibited the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3 in all Indiana schools. The amended version would prohibit the teaching of human sexuality in grades K-3 in Indiana’s public schools only.

“House Bill 1608 assumes that recognizing LGBTQ plus people are talking about a person’s gender identity or orientation are somehow inherently sexually inappropriate,” Parent Stacy Mitchell told members of the House Education Committee. “This bill also assumes that families like ours are unsafe for children to learn about.”

Outside the House chambers, protesters chanted “stop the slate of hate,” while inside, the co-author of the bill, Rep. Jake Teshka of South Bend, insisted that the legislation was all about parental rights. “It is about parents having the right to talk to their children about certain subjects, at a time and in a manner that is consistent with their faith, with their development, with their world view, all of those sorts of things.”

Parent Ashlynn DeWitt also testified before committee members in favor of the bill. “As a parent, you regulate what your kids watch. You regulate their internet usage, and what they listen to. Not because you’re afraid of them being exposed to some truth or realities of the world, but because they are young, they’re innocent, and they’re impressionable. There is absolutely no need to inject sexual information into their learning at this age.”

But attorney Jeff Barron testified that the bill would be harmful to children. “As I understand the amendment to have been implemented today, would prohibit me, when I was a kid, from seeing examples of other people like me. Be instructed or told, that hey, gay bi, trans people, we exist. We’re not alone in the world. You’re not alone.”

H.B. 1608 cleared its first hurdle today by passing out of the house education committee on a 9-to-4 vote.

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